In such a competitive world, a new generation of supplements and “smart drugs” aimed at increasing brain function are gaining popularity. The use of prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall has skyrocketed among university students and corporate workers, and though these drugs do treat diagnosed medical conditions, they are also being used to enhance memory, focus and attention span. Adderall, which is an amphetamine based drug used to treat ADHD, for example, works by boosting the brain’s levels of neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine, to increase levels of concentration.
The dangers of using prescription drugs for brain enhancement are varied but can include disturbances in sleep patterns, long-term hormonal changes and in some cases induced psychosis.
Simply put: playing with your brain by using chemical substances isn’t smart.
There are, however, some natural alternatives commonly known as “nootropics” that you can use to ‘biohack’ your body and boost brain performance – without the risks of long-term emotional and mental instability. Plus, these naturally derived supplements don’t require doctor shopping or the purchase of detergent-laced repackaged drugs online.
Here are 5 nootropics that you can try to boost your brain performance and cognitive function:
That’s right, a study published by John Hopkins in the 2014 journal Nature Neuroscience found that your daily cup of liquid joy can improve short-term working memory and support long-term memory consolidation. But don’t assume that a higher dose will cause a bigger change in mental processing: the caffeine equivalent of 1-2 cups of coffee per day is enough to enhance brain function without causing hyper stimulation.
2) Sibelius Sage™
This clinically trialled natural sage extract works by inhibiting the enzyme Acetylcholinesterase(AChE), to improve word recall, reaction time, word recognition and to decreasemental fatigue. Studies published in medical journal Drugs in R & D have shown its potential for use in study, learning and the workplace.
3) Gingko Biloba
Boosting blood flow and circulation to the brain, Gingko is an ancient herb traditionally used to support long-term memory and slow age-related memory decline. It also improvesmemory recall and mood balance which can only enhance your office popularity!
4) Gotu Kola (‘Brahmi B’)
Commonly used in TraditionalChinese and Ayurvedic medicine, this herb stimulates the growth of brain cells, protects from oxidative stress and prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine(which declines rapidly in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia).
5) Siberian Ginseng
An adaptogen that works to calm the body and balance stress hormones. Studies show that this gentle ginseng nourishes your adrenal glands to boost brain energy and daily focus. Ifyour brain suffers in high stress situations, Siberian ginseng is for you.
So next time you’re seeking your mental performance, stay smart and try a natural alternative!
Farhana KM, Malueka RG,Wibowo S, Gofir A. Effectiveness of Gotu Kola Extract 750 mg and 1000 mgCompared with Folic Acid 3 mg in Improving Vascular Cognitive Impairment afterStroke. Evidence-basedComplementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2016;2016:2795915.doi:10.1155/2016/2795915.
Lee S, Rhee D-K. Effects of ginsengon stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenalaxis. Journal ofGinseng Research. 2017;41(4):589-594.doi:10.1016/j.jgr.2017.01.010.
Lopresti AL. Salvia (Sage): AReview of its Potential Cognitive-Enhancing and Protective Effects. Drugs in R&D.2017;17(1):53-64. doi:10.1007/s40268-016-0157-5.
Serra E et al, Stimulatingmemory consolidation NatureNeuroscience 2014; 17(151-152)
Silberstein RB, Pipingas A,Song J, Camfield DA, Nathan PJ, Stough C. Examining Brain-Cognition Effects ofGinkgo Biloba Extract: Brain Activation in the Left Temporal and LeftPrefrontal Cortex in an Object Working Memory Task. Evidence-based Complementary andAlternative Medicine : eCAM. 2011;2011:164139.doi:10.1155/2011/164139.